Boston at NY Yankees
Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, FOX
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Chris Sale (7-4, 2.56 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Sonny Gray (5-5, 4.93)
Sale was about as dominant as he has been all season in Sunday’s win against Seattle, allowing four hits and a walk while fanning 13 across seven scoreless innings. The six-time All-Star threw 71 of his 93 pitches for strikes and hasn’t given up a homer over his last four outings, yielding a total of four runs and striking out 43 in 28 frames over that span. Judge is 3-for-15 with a homer and 10 strikeouts against Sale, who tossed six innings of one-run ball in a win versus the Yankees on April 10.
Gray is enjoying easily his best month of the season (2-1, 3.23 ERA), but he is coming off his first loss in five trips to the mound after permitting four runs over 6 2/3 frames at Tampa Bay last Saturday. The Vanderbilt product has struggled mightily at home in 2018, going 2-2 with a 7.22 ERA while allowing opponents to bat .309 in those seven turns. Mitch Moreland (8-for-27, four homers) has been a thorn in the side of Gray, who surrendered six runs over three innings in a loss at Boston on April 12.
1. The Yankees boast a 2.30 team ERA in June – the best in the majors.
2. Friday marked the end of Martinez’s nine-game road hitting streak in this rivalry and also halted a seven-game run-scoring streak overall.
3. New York is a league-best 19-5 against left-handed starters, winning each of its last seven games against southpaws.
BRONX – CC Sabathia pitched seven effective innings and Greg Bird hit a pair of solo homers as the New York Yankees opened a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox with an 8-1 victory Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
In front of the Yankees’ 12th sellout crowd of 47,120 and largest crowd of the season, Sabathia (5-3) allowed one run on six hits and completed seven innings for the fourth time. He struck out five, walked one and threw 62 of 97 pitches for strikes.
The veteran left-hander also contained Boston stars Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.
Betts went 2-for-4 but grounded back to the mound to end the seventh after Jackie Bradley Jr. was hit by a pitch. Martinez went 0-for-3 off Sabathia (0-for-4 overall) and flew out twice with runners in scoring position.
Sabathia also improved to 16-9 against the Red Sox with the Yankees and 12-0 following a New York loss since the start of last season. It was his 125th win as a Yankee, the 12th player in team history to reach that mark.
Bird recorded his second career multi-homer game and first since Aug. 19, 2015, by homering in the fourth off Eduardo Rodriguez (9-3) and off Justin Haley in the eighth.
It was the Yankees’ 15th instance of a player hitting two homers this season, and Bird’s showing occurred after Brandon Drury was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to get some time at first base.
Rookie Miguel Andujar drove in three runs with an RBI single and a two-run homer as the Yankees improved to 4-3 in the season series with Boston and improved to 33-5 when getting at least five runs.
Aaron Judge added a two-run homer for the Yankees, who recorded their eighth game with at least four homers.
Boston snapped a four-game win streak and lost for just the second time in its last eight games. The Red Sox were held under three runs for the 17th time this season.
Andrew Benintendi’s double accounted for Boston’s lone run. Steve Pearce made his debut after being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday and went 2-for-4.
Rodriguez matched a season high by allowing five runs on seven hits in six innings. He dropped his second straight start after winning the previous six.
–Field Level Media
LeBron James Opted Out of his 2018-19 NBA contract
James, 33, would have made $35.6 million in the 2018-19 season had exercised his option with the Cavs. According to NBA reports, James could still fetch as much as $207 million over five years from the Cavaliers, while other teams can offer a max of $152 million over four years.
James had until Friday at midnight ET to opt out of the final year of his existing deal with the Cavaliers. He could still re-sign with Cleveland, although the strong current from national media is James appears ready to move again.
In 2014, he returned to the Cavaliers after an in-person meeting with team owner Dan Gilbert. Their relationship was never a great one, but has splintered in recent years. In 2010, James bolted Cleveland in a nationally televised announcement “The Decision,” infamously declaring he was taking his “talents to South Beach” and joining the Miami Heat. Before he joined the Heat, James had meetings with the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers, where team representatives pitched the All-Star with personalized presentations and marketing plans.
Free agency officially begins this Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET, a stroke after midnight at the NBA’s New York HQ.
James has played in the NBA Finals eight consecutive years, but he and the Cavs were swept this season by the Golden State Warriors. ESPN reported the number of teams James and his representatives, Rich Paul and Mark Termini, could be interested in as free agents will be small.
Speculation centers around contenders, including the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, but James shed no light on his plans in multiple interviews broaching the topic.
–Field Level Media
BRONX, NYC – The Boston Red Sox will take a one-game lead in the American League East into a much-anticipated three-game series with the host New York Yankees that begins on Friday. The Red Sox belted nine home runs while sweeping a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, which was capped by Thursday’s 4-2 triumph that completed a 5-1 homestand.
Boston has split its first six games with the rival Yankees as the teams have spent every day since the beginning of May within 2 1/2 games of one another atop the division. The Yankees were blanked twice during a 2-4 road trip that concluded with a 3-0 setback in the finale of a three-game interleague series in Philadelphia. Slugger Aaron Judge was given the day off and should be well-rested as he looks to continue his assault on the Red Sox, against whom he is 11-for-21 with two homers this year. Judge is 0-for-4 but has drawn four walks against Eduardo Rodriguez, who will try to match his career high in wins when he gets the start opposite the veteran CC Sabathia.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, NESN (Boston), YES (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Eduardo Rodriguez (9-2, 3.86 ERA) vs. Yankees LH CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.18)
Rodriguez’s six-game winning streak came to an end with a clunker against Seattle at home on Sunday, when he was reached for five runs – four earned – in four innings. He has gone 4-0 with a 3.57 ERA in six road start after registering eight strikeouts over five scoreless frames at Yankee Stadium on May 10. The 25-year-old is 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 10 career outings versus New York.
Sabathia has dropped back-to-back starts for only the second time since the beginning of the 2017 season, although he has let up just four earned runs in 13 innings during the stretch. The 37-year-old worked a season low-tying four frames opposite Rodriguez on May 10 as he gave up four runs and nine hits. Mookie Betts is 10-for-24 with four walks against Sabathia, who owns a 2.74 ERA in eight home starts this year.
1. Red Sox CF Jackie Bradley Jr. has gone 8-for-14 with two homers over his last four games to raise his batting average from .178 to .202.
2. Boston reportedly acquired 1B/OF Steve Pearce and cash from Toronto on Thursday for INF Santiago Espinal.
3. New York’s bullpen has posted a 0.90 ERA this month while allowing 38 hits in 80 innings.
League sources told ESPN that the Spurs are actively discussing trade offers involving their two-time All-NBA forward Leonard with several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.
With prior reports this offseason that Leonard, who celebrates his 27th birthday Friday, wants out of San Antonio immediately, ESPN reported that while the Spurs are weighing short-term offers, San Antonio apparently hopes to score a massive return on any deal for Leonard, the two-time All-Star and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Leonard’s reported top choice would be his hometown LA Lakers, but with the Spurs seemingly unwilling to help their Western Conference rivals vault to immediate NBA title contenders, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and company are reportedly pressing internally to work out a trade with San Antonio quickly in hopes of influencing free agents James and/or George to jump teams to L.A.
The Lakers are reportedly using the Kyrie Irving and Paul George trades as a framework for their offer, though San Antonio wants more given the expectation that the deal will seal James joining the Lakers. Los Angeles has yet to sign 25th overall pick Mo Wagner, meaning his rights can potentially be included in a trade; the Lakers are also willing to offer they 2016 pick Brandon Ingram and take on salary in order to facilitate a deal for an additional first-round pick, according to ESPN.
One player the Spurs may not be interested in: Lonzo Ball, the Lakers’ 2017 top choice. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the Spurs are believed to be uninterested in the Lakers’ young point guard as a trade centerpiece.
NBA sources told Wojnarowski Thursday that the Spurs remain most enamored with a possible match with the Celtics, who are loaded with young players and draft picks. But Boston is apparently somewhat apprehensive to go all-in on Leonard — partially based on the long-term health of the seven-year veteran Leonard, who played just nine games last season due to a quad injury.
League sources also told ESPN the Celtics would want assurances that Leonard would not exercise his player option next summer and stay for just one season before leaving via free agency.
In addition, the Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly discussing ways to jump into the Leonard sweepstakes, with Sports Illustrated reporting Thursday that the Sixers, cognizant of the Lakers’ advanced timeline, are having internal discussions on making their first official offer for Leonard. A team source told SI that based on prior talks with San Antonio a package could involve forwards Dario Saric and Robert Covington plus a future first-round pick, although the Sixers initially buckled at the thought of losing both valued rotation players.
Meanwhile, a source told Yahoo Sports that Leonard actually reached out to James to let him know he wanted to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar. James faces a Friday deadline to opt out of the final year of his existing contract with the Cavaliers. He could opt out and re-sign with Cleveland, although the strong current from national media is James appears ready to move again.
The national media consensus hints that James does not wish to be the first big move if he chooses to join the young Lakers and instead prefers to see which assets the storied franchise can add, and keep, to help the Cavaliers superstar in his hunt for a fourth NBA championship and beyond.
According to a separate ESPN report, James is unlikely to visit other teams or take an audience with suitors as he did in past free-agent circuits. In fact, James might not even speak with top team officials before making a decision on his destination for next season.
In 2010, James bolted Cleveland in a nationally televised announcement, “The Decision,” during which he infamously declared he was taking his “talents to South Beach” and joining the Miami Heat. Before he joined the Heat, James had meetings with the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers, where team representatives pitched the All-Star with personalized presentations and marketing plans.
In 2014, he returned to the Cavaliers after an in-person meeting with team owner Dan Gilbert.
–Field Level Media